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Your Baby’s Growth: 12 Months

Your baby continues to grow, but not as quickly as before. Other things are changing too. Your baby is probably getting more nutrition from eating food and less from breast milk or formula. They may be shifting from a bottle to a sippy cup. They are also likely crawling and maybe even walking. Slower growth usually isn’t a cause for concern — it’s normal as babies become toddlers.

Is My Baby Growing Normally?

By their first birthday, many babies have tripled their birth weight. Your baby may have changed where they are on the growth curve (for example, maybe they were big for a 6-month-old but are now average for a 1-year-old). That’s OK as long as they are growing at a steady rate.

How Is My Baby’s Growth Checked?

Since your baby’s birth, the health care provider has recorded your little one’s growth in weight, length, and head size (circumference) during your baby’s checkups. By now, your baby is likely on a growth curve that shows that they are growing steadily.

Babies who were born early might still be behind in size compared with their full-term peers, but they should also be growing steadily at their own rate.

What Happens if My Baby’s Growth Is Slow?

Is my baby big enough? Is my child going to be tall or short? Parents might worry about growth or compare a baby with siblings and peers. It’s important to remember that kids come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. The growth curve they’re on now won’t necessarily be the growth curve they stay on.

Growth depends on many things, including:

  • genes passed on by the parents (kids tend to resemble their parents in height)
  • the amount and type of food a child eats
  • overall health
  • how well the hormones that control growth work
  • whether a child has any medical conditions

Based on your child’s growth chart, the health care provider can see if your baby is growing as expected. If they’re concerned about your baby’s weight or growth, the doctor may ask:

  • Have you started whole milk? Babies over 1 year old can switch from formula to whole milk. But sometimes too much or too little can affect growth.
  • Have they switched from a bottle to a cup? Sometimes when a baby starts drinking from a cup they get fewer calories than when they were breastfeeding or bottle feeding.
  • Has your baby been sick? A couple days of not eating, especially if combined with vomiting or diarrhea, can lead to weight loss. The weight will come back when your little one feels better.
  • Is your baby on the move? Crawling and walking will burn calories, so weight gain might be less with this new mobility.
  • Is your baby more interested in playing peek-a-boo or dropping the spoon on the floor than eating? The world is a fascinating place, and your baby is learning new things every day. Try not to distract your baby during mealtime. Also watch for signs that your little one has eaten enough.
  • Are you introducing the right kinds of foods? As your baby gets better at eating, pay more attention to the texture and variety of foods you serve. If your child isn’t interested in puréed baby foods, try soft table foods and finger foods that are safe and fun.

They’ll also ask about your baby’s health, development, and any illnesses that run in your family, and do an exam. All these things together will help the doctor decide if your baby is growing at the right rate. If needed, they may recommend that you take your baby for tests.

Could My Baby Gain Too Much Weight?

The doctor is tracking your baby’s growth and can tell you if your baby needs to slow down with weight gain. This usually doesn’t happen, but overfeeding a baby or giving extra calories through juice can sometimes make a baby gain too much weight.

Never withhold food or use watered-down formula to try to slow weight gain. Your baby needs proper nutrition, including fat, to grow and develop.

One of the best things you can do for your baby is to eat well and be physically active yourself. Your baby has a better chance of growing up fit if healthy habits are part of the family’s way of life. You’ll be a good role model — and have the energy to keep up with your little one.

Here are some healthy habits for your baby:

  • Make sure your baby’s calories come from nutritious sources — like fruits, vegetables, and fortified cereals. Don’t give your baby soda or candy.
  • Watch for your baby’s cues that they’ve had enough (such as acting disinterested, turning their head away, or holding their mouth closed). As long as your baby is not having trouble gaining weight, you don’t need to try to get them to eat every bit of food.
  • Babies don’t need juice, and it adds extra calories and also may lead to excess weight and tooth decay, or cause diarrhea. If you do decide to give juice:
    • Serve only 100% fruit juice, not juice drinks or powdered drink mixes (which are sweetened).
    • Limit the juice to no more than 2–4 fl. oz. (60–120 ml.) per day.
    • Offer juice in a cup, not in a bottle.
    • Serve juice only at mealtimes.
  • Give your baby whole milk or breast milk in a cup (instead of a bottle). Do not give more than 16–24 ounces (480–720 milliliters) of whole milk per day.
  • Feed your baby when they seem hungry. But be aware that sometimes when your baby fusses or cries, it’s not a sign of hunger. They might just want to play or be with you.
  • Encourage physical activity by making sure that your little one has a safe space to move around in. Move and play together.
  • TV, videos, and other types of screen time aren’t recommended for babies this young. Video chatting is OK.

When Will My Baby’s Growth Be Checked Next?

Unless your baby needs to come in sooner, the doctor will see your baby and check growth at the 15-month checkup. For the rest of this year and next year, expect your baby’s growth to slow down. As your little one becomes more and more active, they may thin out a little. But as long as they grow at a steady rate, there is no reason to worry.

Call the doctor if you have any concerns about your baby’s growth or health.